Murder trial opens in prostitute’s slaying

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RANCHO CUCAMONGA — Larry Darnell Shyne never planned for Kimberly Michelle Sum to be shot and killed.

Shyne, Sum’s former pimp, allegedly enlisted his cousin and his cousin’s gang associate to rob Sum at her Ontario hotel room.

Shyne wanted Sum’s laptop, and he told his cousin, Donald Ray Walker, and the associate, Matthew James McClane, to keep any cash and valuables.

But when Walker and McClane visited Sum on Dec. 19, 2008 at the Hotel Indigo under the guise of a “date,” the call girl didn’t have a laptop or valuables in her room.

And Sum, 41, kept screaming during the robbery. As her screams became louder, McClane allegedly took out a pistol and shot Sum in the chest, killing her.

That was the narrative a prosecutor told jurors today in her opening statement in West Valley Superior Court, where Shyne and McClane’s murder trial opened for their alleged roles Sum’s slaying.

“She was a mother,” Youngberg said of Sum. “She was a friend to many.”

After Deputy District Attorney Carolyn Youngberg spoke to jurors, a defense attorney gave an opening statement — urging jurors to keep an open mind — and three witnesses testified. Testimony is scheduled to resume Tuesday morning.

Walker, 23, pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter in 2009 as part of a plea agreement with prosecutors that carries a 17-year prison sentence.

As part of his agreement, he must testify during Shyne and McClane’s trial.

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Shyne, 31, of Pomona, was a pimp, and at one time Sum was one of the call girls that worked for him, Youngberg told the jury of 10 women and two men.

According to Youngberg, Shyne was known for being violent with his prostitutes, and during a previous dispute with Sum he assaulted and threatened her.

Because of his past association with Sum, Shyne knew her room number at the Hotel Indigo, a newly opened hotel north of the 10 Freeway and west of Haven Avenue where Sum had lived for about six months, Youngberg said.

With her room number in hand, Shyne contacted Walker, who is a member of a Los Angeles gang, and asked him to enlist an associate to carry out the robbery.

“Kimberly Sum would be here today if Mr. Shyne did not set this up,” Youngberg told jurors.

During the investigation into Sum’s killing, police released footage from hotel security cameras that captured images of Walker and McClane. Tips from the public led detectives to both men, who were arrested March 12, 2009.

After his arrest, Walker at first denied any involvement in Sum’s death. But during an interview with detectives, he eventually revealed each defendant’s alleged role in Sum’s death.

He told police that Shyne’s plan called for Sum to be robbed, and assaulted only if she resisted. He said he was surprised and angry when McClane, 28, took out a pistol and shot Sum.

McClane’s attorney, Gary Ablard, called Walker’s comments to police into question during his opening statement, and said, “Cross-examination is a big part of the defense.”

“We are going to test that evidence, and hopefully the truth will come out of that,” Ablard said.
Ablard also noted that Youngberg’s comments were not evidence.

“I only ask that as we go through this trial you keep an open mind,” Ablard said.

Shyne’s defense attorney, David Call, did not give an opening statement today, but reserved his right to give a statement after the prosecution’s portion of the trial is over.

The prosecution’s first witness was a former employee at the hotel who discovered Sum’s body the day after the shooting when she checked her room after receiving two “mystery calls” at the front desk asking about Sum’s condition.

Shyne is a former football player who played wide receiver for Mt. San Antonio College, and was a member of the team that won the state championship in 1997.

Shyne went on to play for Purdue University and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

Man accused of torching ex-girlfriend’s car

CHINO — A 28-year-old man has been charged with arson for allegedly setting fire to his ex-girlfriend’s car.

Carlos Allen Alexander is accused of stalking his ex-girlfriend after their breakup in October, with his actions culminating Jan. 13 in the alleged torching of the 27-year-old woman’s car.

Alexander has pleaded not guilty to arson, and he is next due Tuesday in Chino Superior Court for a preliminary hearing, in which prosecutors must present evidence for the case to proceed to trial.

Alexander has two strike convictions, so he could face a prison sentence of 25 years to life if convicted of arson.

Alexander remains jailed in lieu of $625,000 bail at West Valley Detention Center in Rancho Cucamonga.

According to a police report contained in his court file, Alexander continuously called and sent text messages to his ex-girlfriend, and often came uninvited to her apartment in the 13000 block of Ramona Avenue in Chino.

“He is always telling her that he loves her and asks why she won’t take him back,” the police report says.

His ex-girlfriend and another witness told police Alexander was lurking outside the woman’s apartment complex the evening of Jan. 12, in the hours before her car was torched.

The woman told police that when she came home from work at about 6 p.m., her patio screen door and storage shed door were open, as if someone tried to break into her apartment.

She later opened her front door and saw Alexander nearby. She told police they made eye contact but did not speak, and she went inside and closed the door.

Over the next several hours, Alexander called his ex-girlfriend numerous times and asked her to let him into her apartment. She said she refused each time.

At 11:30 p.m., the woman said her doorbell rang, but she was in bed and did not answer the door because she feared it was Alexander.

About 45 minutes later, the woman’s car was torched.

A man who lives in the apartment complex told police he was walking in the parking lot and saw the woman’s car on fire.

He said he saw a man who matched Alexander’s description about 30 feet away from the car and walking away from it, according to the police report.

Chino police officers arrested Alexander at about 10 a.m. Jan. 13 at The Welcome Inn in Pomona, which is located at 4118 Mission Blvd.

Claremont man arrested for mailing threatening letters containing poison

CLAREMONT — A 48-year-old man was arrested this morning by federal authorities for allegedly mailing letters containing poisonous substances to a courthouse and to several offices of the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services.

Martin Calvin Yarbrough Jr. was arrested at his home in Claremont. He was indicted Tuesday by a federal grand jury on 13 counts of making threats and hoaxes.

Each count carries up to five years in prison, meaning Yarbrough could face a sentence of up to 65 years, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Yarbrough pleaded not guilty to criminal charges this afternoon in a Los Angeles federal courtroom. A trial was scheduled for March 22, said U.S. Attorney’s spokesman Thom Mrozek.

Yarbrough was released from custody this afternoon after posting $25,000 bail, Mrozek said.

A woman who identified herself as Yarbrough’s sister said today that she’s “speechless” over her brother’s arrest.

“There’s nothing I can really tell you right now,” said Yarbrough’s sister, who declined to give her name.

Between November 2008 and May 2010, Yarbrough allegedly mailed letters containing either a white powdery substance or a bluish granular substance that authorities determined was poisonous.

“The material was found to be poison, but not bacterial biothreat agents or other toxins like, say, ricin or anthrax,” Mrozek said.

The letters led to employee evacuations in each of the locations they were received.

The letters were mailed to the Edmund D. Edelman Children’s Court in Monterey Park, and to Department of Children and Family Services offices in Pomona, Covina, El Monte, Monterey Park, Santa Fe Springs, Los Angeles, Chatsworth and Lancaster, according to the news release.

“Using threatening letters and hoax powders to convey discontent is a serious crime and, as evidenced with the arrest of Mr. Yarbrough, has significant consequences,” said Steven Martinez, assistant director in charge of the FBI in Los Angeles.

“The major law enforcement response generated every time such a letter is received is time-consuming and accomplished at the expense of taxpayers,” he said.

Trial set for Tuesday in Filippi Winery lawsuit

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RANCHO CUCAMONGA – A trial is scheduled to begin Tuesday in the lawsuit between two Filippi brothers that will determine the fate of the Joseph Filippi Winery.

Attorneys for Gino and Joe Filippi confirmed the trail date today during a trial readiness hearing in West Valley Superior Court.

Gino, an Upland councilman who owns a 45 percent stake in the Rancho Cucamonga winery, was fired from his position at the winery and is seeking to dissolve the family business.

Joe, who owns a 55 percent stake in the business, has counter-sued Gino for alleged breach of fiduciary duty.

A court staff member said today that the trial will begin Tuesday if there is a courtroom with an open schedule that can accommodate the trial proceedings. If there is not space, the trial date will be pushed back, the staff member said.

Trial date set in officers’ Ontario Mills rape case

RANCHO CUCAMONGA — An April 18 trial date was scheduled today in the case of two law enforcement officers charged in the alleged kidnap and rape last year of an Ontario Mills waitress.

Anthony Nicholas Orban, a former Westminster police detective, is accused of kidnapping a waitress at gunpoint April 3 in the mall’s parking lot, then sexually assaulting her in a parked car for more than an hour at a Fontana shopping center.

His childhood friend, California Institution for Men corrections officer Jeff Thomas Jelinek, is accused of watching the kidnapping, picking up Orban after the assault, and erasing incriminating cell phone messages.

The men, who have pleaded not guilty and remain jailed in lieu of $2 million bail, are next due March 4 in West Valley Superior Court for a pretrial hearing.

Rancho Cucamonga doctor sentenced in scheme to obtain painkillers

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PALM SPRINGS – A doctor from Rancho Cucamonga was sentenced to a year in jail today for forging prescriptions and adopting patients’ identities to obtain painkillers.

Lisa Michelle Barden, 41, pleaded guilty last month to 274 felonies in connection with the scheme, and this month a jury found her guilty of two more criminal counts.

Judge Graham Anderson Cribbs placed Barden on five years’ probation this afternoon in Palm Springs Superior Court.

Cribbs also sentenced Barden to nearly eight years in prison, but that sentence was suspended, said Deputy District Attorney Debra Ann Postil.

As part of her probation, Barden cannot practice medicine for three years, and she must attended drug treatment classes and complete 1,000 hours of community service, Postil said.

If Barden violates her probation, Cribbs could opt to send her to prison, Postil said.

Barden, a doctor of osteopathic medicine, was accused of committing her crimes between February 2007 and December 2008, when she worked at a Palm Springs medical office.

According to prosecutors, Barden used the names of five doctors from her office to forge prescriptions in 15 patients’ names. She then adopted those patients’ identities to purchase pills such as Vicodin and promethazine.

In the course of her scheme, Barden visited 43 different pharmacies – mostly in the Coachella Valley – and made 131 different purchases, according to prosecutors.

Arraignment delayed in councilwoman’s theft case

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POMONA — An arraignment hearing was again postponed today for a Pomona councilwoman charged with petty theft for allegedly stealing a campaign sign.

Ginna Escobar, 24, is accused of stealing a sign in November belonging to Three Valleys Municipal Water District candidate Carlos Goytia, who later won election.

This morning in Pomona Superior Court, her arraignment was delayed to Feb. 2. After the hearing, her defense attorney and a prosecutor met to discuss the case.

The prosecutor, Deputy District Attorney James C. Daloisio, did not return a call this afternoon seeking information about the meeting.

Arraignment delayed for teen accused in slaying

POMONA — A 14-year-old boy accused of fatally stabbing his 73-year-old grandfather failed to appear today for an arraignment hearing.

Mario Sandoval was absent because he remains hospitalized, according to a staff member in Judge Martha Bellinger’s courtroom in Pomona Superior Court.

Sandoval is next due in court Feb. 2. He is accused of killing his grandfather Jan. 11 in the 1800 block of Grier Street in Pomona.

Teacher charged in attack seeks to withdraw guilty pleas

FONTANA — A former high school teacher who pleaded guilty last month in an attack on his estranged wife said today that he wants to withdraw his pleas.

Augustine Anene, 54, was scheduled to be sentenced this morning in Fontana Superior Court, but the hearing was postponed because of his request.

His attorney, Gina Kershaw, said a new lawyer will be appointed to represent Anene in his bid to withdraw his pleas.

Anene, a former computer instructor at Garey High School in Pomona, pleaded guilty Dec. 17 to burglary and spousal abuse as part of a plea agreement with prosecutors that carried a four-year prison sentence.

On March 29, Anene allegedly sneaked into his wife’s Fontana home, hid in her bedroom closet, and waited until nightfall before emerging and attacking her in bed.

His alleged attack was stopped by one of the couple’s teenage sons, who heard his mother’s screams and pushed away his father, according to a police report contained in Anene’s court file.

Anene is next due in court Feb. 1 to confirm the appointment of a new attorney, Kershaw said.

He is being held in lieu of $1.2 million bail at West Valley Detention Center in Rancho Cucamonga.

Judge throws out plea agreement in fatal drunk driving crash

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Pictured (L-R): Ashley Young and Leyna Basua

Updated at 2:41 p.m.

FONTANA — A judge rejected a plea agreement today for a woman accused of driving drunk and causing a traffic collision that killed a Pomona woman.

Ashley Conner Young’s plea agreement, in which she pleaded guilty last month to gross vehicular manslaughter, carried a sentence of a year in jail.

Supporters of the victim, Leyna Marie Basua, believed the agreement was too lenient, and this morning Judge Steven A. Mapes said he agreed.

“I was kind of shocked that she was getting a year in county jail with one person killed and another injured,” Mapes said in Fontana Superior Court.

Young, 23, was scheduled to be sentenced today. But at the start of the hearing, a supervising deputy district attorney at the Fontana branch of the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office said the prosecution no longer supports the plea agreement.

Richard Young cited the feelings of Basua’s supporters — about 30 of whom protested outside the courthouse this morning — in explaining his office’s wish to have the agreement thrown out.

“Our position is to make them as whole as possible,” Young said.

Basua and her boyfriend, John Martin, were badly injured on Oct. 11, 2009 when their car was struck from behind by a car allegedly driven by Ashley Young on the 15 Freeway near Cherry Avenue.

Basua, 26, suffered a fractured pelvis, cuts to her legs, and injuries to her organs. Nearly nine months after the crash she died from an internal infection.

Martin’s left arm was broken and his spine was injured, and he said today outside the courthouse that he still feels pain from his injuries.

“I’m very happy,” Martin said after the judge’s ruling. “That’s exactly what we wanted. There’s a chance she could be acquitted, but I’m willing to take that chance.”

Young’s attorney, Miles Clark, argued during the hearing that the plea agreement — which was approved by supervisors in the District Attorney’s Office — should be honored.

“Justice has to be served irrespective of emotions,” Clark said.

He said that Young was remorseful for the crash, and he noted that the evidence in the case is unchanged from when prosecutors entered into the plea agreement.

“I think the only thing that’s changed is the media” is now covering the case, Clark said.

After the hearing, Clark said it’s “extremely uncommon” for the District Attorney’s Office to try to nullify a plea agreement that it negotiates. He said it’s also uncommon for a judge to reject such an agreement.

“Justice certainly has not been served,” he said.

Young, clad orange jail scrubs, cried during much of the hearing and nodded in agreement when her attorney said she was remorseful.

Her family members declined to comment to reporters.

Young is next due in court Feb. 2, and a preliminary hearing — in which prosecutors must present evidence for the case to proceed to trial — is scheduled for Feb. 7.

Richard Young said after the hearing that he believes Ashley Young’s case will likely end in a jury trial, rather than a new plea agreement.

“(Ashley Young’s attorney) could make an offer that the family and we agree on,” he said. “But I seriously doubt that’s going to occur.”

Four months before the crash that killed Basua, Ashley Young was arrested in Beverly Hills on suspicion of drunken driving.

She didn’t appear for her arraignment and she was never convicted of DUI. But as a result of the charge, her driver’s license was suspended and it remained suspended at the time of the crash.

At the scene of the collision, Young told California Highway Patrol officers that she was a passenger in her car, which she said was driven by a friend who fled the scene.

In a recent interview with the San Bernardino County Probation Department, Young admitted she was the driver, Judge Mapes said today.

Mapes cited Young’s initial dishonesty with officers, and her evasiveness when they tried to contact her for follow-up interviews, in explaining his ruling.

“I wondered, ‘How could the defendant end up with probation with all of these factors?’” he said.

Mapes said he believed Young, if granted probation, would violate it within six months of being released from jail.

“I don’t think she would be successful on probation,” he said.

For several hours before the hearing, family members and friend’s of Basua held signs at the entrance of the courthouse criticizing Young’s plea bargain.

“Would one year be enough for the death of your child?” one sign read. Another said, “Ashley Young should go to prison.”

After the hearing Basua’s mother said she was happy about the judge’s ruling.

“It’s better now, a lot better,” Mary Santibanez said.

While Young’s attorney was being interviewed by reporters after the hearing, Santibanez listened to his comments for a few moments before interrupting him.

“Do you have kids?” she said.

When Santibanez shouted the question, Miles Clark stopped speaking and walked away from the group of reporters.

Martin, Basua’s boyfriend, said he doesn’t believe Young, who gave police home addresses in Newport Beach and Palm Desert, is remorseful.

He said no one from Young’s family has contacted him or Basua’s family to apologize.

“I’ve never seen any remorse,” Martin said. “I don’t know her personally, but from seeing her in the jury box … I don’t see any remorse.”